The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On Not Eating My Arms

I lick my biceps and forearms. They taste so clean, with just a hint of smooth salt and soap. That salt has a nice flavor. I click-click off the air conditioner and do a foolish fifty jumping jacks. I lick again, and "Yah! Yecch!" Next time I'll do twenty-five or leave the air conditioner on. After dabbing with a paper towel, I rub expensive olive oil down-up and up-down and top with a dash of balsamic and a light sugar sprinkle. I lick again: just right.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Recipes and other shit

From the recipe for black beans in The Best Recipe: "Bring all bean ingredients to boil...skimming surface as scum rises." This seemed a useful allegory for American politics, especially assigning the role of the ham-hock, presumed source of said scum, but I felt too hungry to pursue it (the allegory, not the recipe). So instead:

I decided to tell you a story about my elementary school days when, in fourth grade, at recess, two older boys challenged me to shit in the schoolyard in exchange for a 1986 Topps Floyd Youmans baseball card (career numbers: 30-34, 3.74, 424 K). Floyd was a known cokehead, and I thought that coke was a beverage. I still have that card, and I don't really want to talk about it. So instead:

I'll discuss another recipe. This one, entitled "Brains Filling," comes from the Culinary Arts Institute's Polish Cookbook (1978). The abridged instructions: "Rinse brains under running cold water. Put brains into a saucepan with water to cover...Drain brains; remove and discard white tough membrane. Chop brains coarsely." Now I sometimes crave boiled brains-pierogies, not so much for the taste, but for the eighteen hours after, when I can think with my stomach, intestines, colon, toilet bowl, municipal sewer system, etc. Of course, depending on the brains, these thoughts are either "Chew, chew, chew the cud," or "Hot, hot, find the mud," or instead:

"I take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on me."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Why ambulance, fire marshal, and cops came

Domestic violence has gone on outside my apartment. A woman repeatedly shouts out "Orgy, orgie," meaning something altogether different than that in English. There is an ambulance, a fire marshal, and a police car, whose lights flash in the night. The interaction in the street seems to be aftermath: two Serbian or Montenegrin men, one wearing a bandanna, try to communicate with the cops. No one was carried out on a stretcher. It may be valuable to try to re-enact the scene which brought the cops and ambulance.

Man: Gibberish, gibberish, why don't you ever gibberish?
Woman: You gibberish. You always gibberish.
Man: I'll gibberish your gibberish if you ever gibberish again.
Woman: I'm calling the gibberish.
Man (advancing): The hell you are.
Man #2: I'm uncomfortable.

In retrospect, it was not at all valuable to re-enact the situation. In fact, it trivialized the entire nature of domestic gibberish and doomed me to an eternity of burning in gibberish.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Studio Apartment

I got two rooms.
I'm half-naked, and the half that isn't wears a pink shirt
And smokes, asshole.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

People are people

People are people. Please read this.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Water Polo Day 1

At the Gay Games water polo match between the West Hollywood All-Stars and the Chicago Riptide, I expected rainbow bunting, Madonna and Cher on the PA system, and guys in Speedos. I only got one of three, plus an ordinary, if lopsided match as West Hollywood defeated Chicago 22-3.

With no opportunity to indulge my prejudices (other than West Hollywood's red Speedos with yellow polka-dots), I let them go. The Gay Games (at least in water polo) seem to be more about the Games than the Gay. Of course, if I wanted spectacle, maybe I should have attended the opening ceremonies. I had thought, though, that gays were always spectacular...

The match was never in doubt. WeHo scored the first seven goals, five in the first three minutes. They swam quickly, efficiently, both on the fast-break and on the set-pieces. The Riptide's defense seemed resigned to foul their powerful opponent.

Chicago broke through with :14 left in the first quarter with a tricky, knuckling 5-meter lob from #8 that glanced off the goalkeeper's hand and floated on the goal line a moment before deciding to cross, rousing raucous, optimistic cheers from the Chicago contingent.

The other highlights for Chicago included a rifle-shot from 10m at 2:17 in the 3rd period from #11, known to us only as "E," and a fourth period penalty-shot from #6, Dan (a straight ringer), that fooled a California man on its way to the upper right corner of the goal.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Late Dinner in Warsaw

It was just after dusk. On blistered feet I shuffled down a shadowy Warsaw street, planning a route to the train station where I would depart in the morning. Four-story apartment buildings rose on one side and a gated schoolyard on the other. The traffic noise diminished to a light whisper, and my footsteps echoed off the buildings.

The day had been very hot, and the sweat soaking my khakis made me wish that wearing shorts would not scream "Ugly American!" to the cafe women in crepe paper pants and pastel tops. I wished for a nice girl, alone and possessed by a desire to learn English. Over coffee, it would have been nice to look someone in the eyes rather than in the ass. My legs felt heavy, and I walked on.

From the opposite direction, a woman approached me. In her twenties, her long dark hair was pulled back from her face, emphasizing her large chin and pale complexion. She wore a long-sleeved top of brown and black patchwork velvet with lots of tassels and a matching skirt. As we passed, she stopped. My heart quickened. She spoke to me in Polish.

“Nie rozumiem. I don’t understand,” I replied.

She smiled with teeth spaced wide apart. “You speak English?”


“Are you from England?”

“No, America.”

She considered this. “I need some money for a hot…” Hands drawing circles, she searched for the word.

“Meal?” I offered.

She nodded. “I am not from Poland. I am from France.”

France, okay,” I replied. “How much money do you need?”

Her mouth formed a perfect “O.” She looked down at her black Chuck Taylor All-Stars. “I don’t know. I’m going to maybe McDonald’s.”

I reached into my pockets and gathered all the change I could find, which amounted to 450 zlote. I handed the coins to her.

She counted them. “This will be enough for maybe a hamburger,” she said, voice trailing off.

I shrugged. There was more money in the wallet, but the wallet was off limits.

“Thank you,” she said, starting to walk away. “Have a nice…” Her hands opened, palms up.

“Evening,” I finished.

She smiled and walked away. At about ten yards, she glanced over her shoulder.

“Wait,” I yelled.

She turned.

“Come on,” I said. “Let’s get dinner.”

Eyebrows raised, she took a few steps toward me.

“I’ll buy you dinner. Come with me.”

Our shoulders nearly touching, we walked to the shopping district near the Novy Swiat. The air was humid on my skin, and I brought my outside arm up to wipe the sweat off my face and to sneak a sniff of my armpit.

She seemed well-groomed, and I could not detect an odor that I would associate with street people. She told me that her name was Marie, and that she had come to Poland with her boyfriend, who was unable to find factory work and left her.

We approached an outdoor café with chrome tables and chairs. There were several open tables, each adorned with a candle and water glasses containing cloth napkins. White flowers spilled out of pots hung from the wrought iron fence that separated the eating area from the street.

“Shall we eat here?” I asked.

She shook her head no. “Maybe they don’t let me eat here. I know one over there.” She motioned down a dark side street.

“No,” I said. “We’ll eat here.”

I sat down at a small, rectangular table at the edge of the cafe. I took the seat with my back to other patrons, remembering that a lady should see and be seen. Marie motioned for me to get up.

“I need to sit there,” she whispered.

I rose and took the other seat, wedged against the fence.

“They look at me strange,” she whispered.

A middle-aged couple at the adjoining table glanced at us, lips tense and tight, but remained in their seats.

The waiter approached with a grin frozen on his face. He wore black pants, a pale pink collared shirt, and a black tie. His sleeves were rolled up to expose hairless, feminine wrists. He recited what might have been the dinner specials. I looked to Marie for help. She said something to the waiter, and he walked away.

“All they have tonight is cold ham and cheese sandwich,” she said. “The kitchen is closed.”

“It’s nine-thirty,” I said.

She shrugged.

The waiter brought to the couple next to us a steaming silver platter. They moved the contents of the platter to their dinner plates, picked up their forks, and ate.

“Let’s go somewhere else,” I said.

Marie smiled. “Ham and cheese sandwich is fine.”

“No. I don’t want to eat here.”

I stood up and walked out into the street. Marie followed close behind.

“The kitchen wasn’t closed,” I said.

“It is my clothes.” she replied.

We walked in silence down the shopping district among strolling couples and tourists, clothing boutiques with half-naked, nippled mannequins in the windows, each one with a sale on shoes, skirts, or sunglasses.

Marie's body seemed shapeless.

At the end of the strip was another café, lit only by green Christmas lights.

“Here?” I said.

Marie nodded and we sat. There were no other patrons, but I took the seat against the fence.

A waitress came up to us, with red-dyed hair and a silver stud glinting just below her lip.

“Hello,” she said to me. “Here are the menus. Would you like something to drink?”

She brought us two beers, light and frothy in tall glasses, and we ordered hot sandwiches.

Marie sipped. While not pretty, the soft green light combined with her modesty and uneasiness gave her face an appealing glow. She would not make eye-contact with me.

“So, do you work?” I asked, enunciating my words.

“I…do things for the men.” Her eyes still downcast, she continued, “I don’t like to do those things, but…”

A moment passed. My face felt hot.

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I work for a man who owns many buildings. I am in charge of the rents, the money.”

“That is important,” she murmured and leaned closer to me, eyes still on the table. She reached into a pocket and brought something out. I heard a click. She pushed the table toward me, pinning me against the fence. I felt a sharp tip on my thigh.

She stared up at me, dark eyes flat, without feeling. Her voice turned dark and throaty. “Give me your money.”

The tip dug deeper.

Her eyes burned. “Now.”

I struggled to get my wallet. I tried to remove the cash in one quick motion, but she grabbed the wallet from my hand. She stepped on the chair and, tassels flying, leaped over the café’s barrier. She disappeared into an alley. By the time I pushed the table back and stood up, she was gone.

My heart crazy, I sat down and drank from my glass. I reached into my sock and produced a 10,000 zlote note. I set it on the table. The waitress returned with the sandwiches.

“Where is your friend?” she asked.

“She’s gone. I’ll take the check please.”

Maybe somewhere in the concrete heart of Warsaw, Marie gathered with others in patchwork clothes to laugh and share stories as firelight glinted off the needle.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Big Dreams

His dishes are filthy. He should wash them. He thinks that whatever particles of food remain attract sewer gnomes in black shiny wetsuits, who bite his legs and suck his dick at night. They carry tanks of sewer water on their gills to breathe. Their large, basslike mouths cause the technicolor itch. Not from dust mites, no, imagine being bitten and sucked by something invisible, absurd.

He had a dream last night about a blow-job which took four seconds to resolve. The actress performing the act cast herself into the role of a teenager under the legal age of consent. He suspected that she was a minion of those giant treelike dream creatures which Carlos Casteneda calls "inorganic beings (scroll down)." And really, who knows what fifteen means in a world without years? Of course he felt some degree of shame, but he knew, he somehow knew that there were no age-of-consent statutes in the dream-house in the village in the county in the state in the country in the world in which he lay on the floor, receiving oral pleasure. He knew because the world and the country and the state and the county and the village and the dream-house did not exist: there was no dirt, or even dust. There was only the hunter/father to worry about -- for four seconds plus cleanup.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From Left to Right

"You want to write something? It's one in the morning. Go to bed. You need to go to work tomorrow."

"Lefty, you suck. You worse than suck. You nurse!"

"Foolish, naive right-brain. You won't write the first chapter of the Great American Novel when you're all drunk and stupid."

"What's 1445 plus 267, divided by two?"

"I...I can't...It's all hazy in here."

"See? No one's drunk and stupid but you. I don't do math. I don't subscribe to those rules. All I need is one good feeling, and I still have plenty of those."


"Pocket protector."

"Okay. I've got some facts for you: Turin was once the capital of Italy. Mole day is October 23. Amelie Mauresmo is a lesbian. The half-life of Uranium 238 is..."

"Arrrgh! Filthy bastard! All so white..."

"I can still count too. Heee heee ehee heh eeee heee! There are seventeen "e's" in my laugh. There are six "h's" in my laugh. How many letters are in my laugh?"

"I'll kill you! Come here and get...sum...sum...some..."

"Some what? Some derivatives? Some integrals?"


Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Ordering Chinese

I haven't ordered Chinese food in forever. I think I might. What will I have? Let's look at one of the two menus. We can either look at China Dragon or Lee's Chop Suey. On some terrible disappointing night I wrote "DO NOT EAT" in Sharpie on the China Dragon menu. It shall be Lee's then.

First I will look at the pictures on the back of the menu because I am an artist. I can appreciate the postmodern (po-mo) aesthetic of the sweet and sour chicken. The orange slime drips with irony, the chicken, deconstructed. It makes me feel not-at-all sweet when I should be sour.

Since I also own a graphing calculator, I know that the tastiness of the food is inversely proportional to its visual appeal. The House Special Lo Mein looks like piled maggots and mealworms with scallions. The Beef Chow Fun looks like slices of rat, also with scallions. The Vegetable Delight looks like Vegetable Delight. The Singapore Style Noodles look delicious.

Now I turn the menu over to look at the words. I will have to use my imagination for this task. The Ginger Beef warns: "Shredded beef marinated in ginger sauce. You can't stop eating it!" Yikes! Will I wind up in the tub clutching an unnatural pot-belly like a malnourished African boy? Later, will I drive through the plate-glass window of Lee's establishment, covered in my own vomit, needing an ultimately terminal fix? I am tempted. The Ma Po Bean Curd haltingly boasts, "A hot dish made w. fresh bean curd, sauteed with minced pork for better taste." What? Should I substitute the first clause with "A hot dish made w. pig shit" or "A hot dish made w. bleach and bok choy?" Relativism is fine for morals, but not for food.

I must order at least two entrees to overcome the guilt from forcing some poor bastard to bring food to my lazy white ass three (city) blocks away. I can't be bothered with pick-up, though, because I am either a) too drunk or b) too drunk to remember what "a" was.

So, it seems to be a clear victory for House Special Lo Mein and Ginger Beef. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama:

In fifth grade, I attended the neighborhood public school for the first time. Previously, I had attended a Montessori school in another town where children grades one to six all used the same classroom. My friends spanned all ages, and they were my friends because we all liked to play outside and disliked the principal.

At the public school, however, I only knew two boys, Paul and Sean. We had played on the same little league team. At recess, Paul, Sean, and I would chase butterflies and catch grasshoppers. We were happy.

Soon I began to notice that everybody else was playing football at recess, and the girls liked to watch those football-playing boys. One day the quarterback of one of the teams, Johnny Knickerbocker, asked me if I'd like to join them. My face flushed with pride, I asked if Paul and Sean could play too. He shook his head no. They were in the remedial program.

I played football every day from then on. Sean moved away, and Paul brought a tennis ball to school to throw against the wall at recess.

Senator, I know you're in with the cool kids now, but you don't have to do what they do. Voting against the Kerry/Feingold amendment to redeploy the troops in Iraq was wrong and will lead to the loss of innocents. But there is still time to change back into the man we thought that we elected.

Go ahead, ask Paul if he wants to play catch.

Yours truly,